Tag: Portland OR

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Release a Shimmering, Shoegazer Take on Heavy Psych

Led by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), the acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight was formed after Faris’ previous band broke up as a way to begin experimenting with what her own version of “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its forms. The primary idea for the project was to have vulnerability be in the driver’s seat when it came to the creative process. And secondly, Faris, who was often the only female in many of her bands, desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

Blackwater Holylight released their critically applauded self-titled, full-length debut last year, and as a result of extensive touring to support it, the band has managed to hone their sound and identity — with their sound evolving to the point that their live show has become about the slow build.  And as a heavy band, the members of the Portland-based JOVM mainstays sonically and structurally do something unlike their peers: their songs aren’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come and go in rippling and undulating waves that surface through material that’s generally meditative and entrancing. Additionally, the band focuses on building tension and intrigue through the song and its structure. 

Now, as you may recall, the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Veils of Winter is slated for an October 11, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records. The album finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums) and perhaps as a result of their new lineup, their sound and writing process has changed quite a bit. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” says Faris. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” She continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

While album single “Motorcycle”  featured fuzzy power chords, gorgeous melodies and a motorik groove and found the band crafting a song that was one part doom metal and one part shoegaze, the album’s latest single “Death Realms” is a decidedly straightforward, shoegazey affair centered around shimmering guitars, twinkling synths, propulsive drumming, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook. But the thing that “Death Realms” shares with its predecessor is that it’s an incredible nuanced song that you can sway and headband along to. 

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Lyric Video: Joseph’s Soaring and Anthemic “Green Eyes”

Deriving their name from their grandfather Jo and the tiny Oregon town of  Joseph, OR, in which he was born and raised, the  Portland, OR-based sibling indie pop trio Joseph, comprised of Natalie Closner Schepman and her two, younger twin sisters Meegan and Alison grew up in a musical household — their dad was a jazz singer and drummer, their mom a theater teacher. However, their collaboration together can trace their origins back to around 2014: Schepman who had been pursuing a career as a solo career as a singer/songwriter recruited her sisters to join her.  And when the Closners began collaborating together, they quickly recognized an irresistible and undeniable simpatico. 

The trio quickly developed a reputation for playing intimate house shows, in which the siblings accompanied themselves with acoustic guitar and foot drum and within their first year working together, the trio self-released their debut, 2014’s Native Dreamer Kin, which caught the attention of ATO Records, who signed the group the following year. After releasing 2015’s, ATO Sessions EP, an acoustic, two song, digital EP and accompanying video series, the sibling trio went on to release their Mike Mogis-produced, label debut 2016’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not, which featured the smash hit “White Flag.” “White Flag” landed on Spotify’s US Viral Top Ten Chart within days of its release. By October, the track landed at #1 on the Adult Alternative Charts. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the trio made appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Later . . . with Jools Holland, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Conan, CBS This Morning and Today. They also opened for James Bay during a sold out, 2016 arena tour — and they made festival stops at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, Sasquatch Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Outside Lands Festival, Pilgrimage Music Festival and several others. 

Slated for release next week, The Closer’s highly -anticipated Christian “Leggy” Langdon-produced follow up to I’m Alone, No You’re Not reportedly finds the trio pushing their sound as the material finds them embracing a grittier, much more dynamic sound — while retaining the gorgeous harmonizing that won them attention. “The through-line of the album is this idea of moving into the driver’s seat of your own life-recognizing that you’re an adult now, and everything’s up to you from this moment on,” Natalie Closner Schepman says in press notes.  “You’re not completely sure of how to get where you need to go, and you don’t have any kind of a map to help you. It’s just the universe looking down on you like, ‘Good luck, kid.'”

“Green Eyes,” Good Luck, Kid’s latest single finds the siblings meshing classic, Phil Spector Wall of Sound-era pop with elements of old school country and contemporary pop as it features twinkling piano, strummed guitar, dramatic drumming, and an enormous hook — with the primary focus being the trio’s gorgeous harmonizing. And while being a slickly produced, radio friendly pop confection, the song reveals some incredibly earnest yet ambitious songwriting. Simply put, this is an act actively attempting to take over the world with carefully crafted pop rooted around personal and lived-in experience. In this case, much like some of the sources that seem to influence it, “Green Eyes” is an aching love song in which its narrator recognizes that their relationship is at a major crossroads. 

“You’re starting to sense this person slipping away from you and you explain how it’s ok if they’re questioning,” Natalie Closner Schepman says about the track. “You assure them that you feel certain and you’ll be right over here waiting for them to see what you see.”

The recently released, animated lyric video features the band in a Speed Racer-like animation, in which the ladies cruise an alien-like world of purple skies and neon-green moonlight. 

CHAD is an up-and-coming Portland, OR-based indie rock act comprised of founding members Sarah Lane and her partner Trevor Greely, with 1776′s Zach Whiton and Sioux City, IA-born, Portland, OR-based Alex Widner, that can trace its origins to its founding members starting the band after their previous band split up. Their debut single, the remarkably self-assured yet dreamy, Cameron Spies-produced “I Got Time” is also the first song the band ever wrote together. And interestingly, the single finds the band quickly establishing a signature sound  as Lane’s gorgeous slacker vocals effortlessly weave through layers of shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and thumping, hip-hop inspired drumming. But the song is centered by a playful and delicious irony — the song’s narrator may be saying that she has time, but there’s a tacit recognition that really she doesn’t, and that time is flying by.

“The dreamy dance number is about having time (or maybe not?) to figure out you lover and yourself,” the band explains. “The song also ponders how much time humans have left in the world.”

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Ivan Howard a prolific singer/songwriter,who has spent extensive stints writing, recording and touring with The Rosebuds, fronting the acclaimed indie supergroup GAYNGS, releasing material with his alter-ego Howard Ivans — and writing for Kanye West and Bon Iver. Late last year, Howard wound up in his Portland home with an unusual quiet patch in his schedule. However, as the story goes, that quiet patch didn’t last very long.

Howard found himself reconnecting with longtime friends Robert Rogan and Brian Weeks. “We met my freshman year of college. Brian heard I could sing, and cornered me in a stairway til I sang “Let Love Rule.” We ended up in our first band together, and he helped me realize that life wasn’t all basketball. I might be ok at music, too.” Howard recalls in press notes. Weeks introduced Howard to Rogan, and the three became close, with Weeks eventually joining Ivans in The Rosebuds as a touring musician, in between stints in Wilmington indie bands with Rogan. Coincidentally, around the same time that Howard reconnected with his old friends, Rogan and Weeks had begun working on a new project together. “We recorded 11 songs with scratch vocal tracks, but neither Robert nor I were completely comfortable singing on them,” Brian Weeks says in press notes. Rogan and Weeks decided to send the tracks they worked on to Howard — with the hopes of getting his take on the material.

“When they asked me to sing on ‘Run,’ I originally said ‘You don’t need me, just get Robert,’ admits Howard. “I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I liked Robert’s voice. But they kept pushing and I figured, it’s just one song.” Of course, it’s rarely just one song.  Once Robert heard Ivan’s take, he insisted he sing them all. “It was like somebody said ‘Here’s a CD of Greatest Hits of this genre of music without vocals that no one’s ever heard,” Howard explains. “Surprise! You get to sing them!’” The end result is the trio’s latest collaborative project together De La Noche.

De La Noche can trace its origins to Rogan and Weeks’ adopted hometown of Wilmington,  NC. During the middle of 2015 Rogan found himself rudderless. He had gone through a divorce and found that he had a lot of time on his hands — with few distractions. He began playing around and writing material. Feeling isolated, Rogan contacted his pal Weeks to collaborate on material that they wanted to feel closer to the 80s synth pop they’d grown up adoring than the guitar-driven indie rock bands they’ve long played in. Unsurprisingly, Howard, whose solo work also draws from 80s synth pop and soul, found it easy to slip his imitable vocals into the material Rogan and Weeks had been working on. “I tried to let the music dictate the sentiment of each song and just created a character that could fill all these melodic parts,” Howard explains in press notes. 

When asked about how De La Noche differs from his other projects, Howard says that ‘with most of my other projects, I’m the one that usually starts the song, travels with it the long road, and grinds it out ’till it’s finished. By the end, even though I love the songs, I still get tired of them — or they take on a different meaning from the struggles I was going through at the time. With the De La Noche, I just came in 2/3 of the way there. The songs were already written, and Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats fame had already played his guest sax licks all over it. All I did was just sing them with my slant.” That slight bit of emotional distance from the material reportedly allowed Howard to take a far more adventurous approach in his vocal delivery. 

The project’s full-length debut Blue Days, Black Nights is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Get Loud Recordings, and as you may recall, last month I wrote about the album’s slinky opener and first single “Avenues,” a track that to my ears was one part Quiet Storm R&B and one part Manifesto and Avalon-era Roxy Music. “Dreams,” Blue Days, Black Nights‘ latest single continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — slinky and sultry Quiet Storm R&B-inspired pop  centered by shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, thumping beats and Howard’s plaintive vocals. And the addition of vocoder effected vocals on the song’s hook completes the retro vibes.

Interestingly, the song may arguably be the most emotionally ambivalent of the album’s singles so far — while seemingly upbeat, there’s an undercurrent of uncertainty, bitterness and loneliness that gives the song a razor sharp edge. “This song was written during the darkest period of my life,” De La Noche’s Robert Rogan recalls. “It was like someone muted the sun out just over top of me. Like, ‘Fuck you, Robert.’ The only time that was really bearable was when I was unconscious and dreaming. I hated waking up. The fact that the song sounds upbeat and optimistic is intentionally ironic. Which in turn actually turned the song into something more positive in the end. Maybe I was subconsciously telling myself to hold on? Actually now I look forward to getting up every day. I just went back to daydreaming now like I used to do before that long winter.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Release a Trippy Headbanger

The acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight was formed by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass) after her previous band broke up, as a way to begin experimenting with what her own version of “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its form. In fact, the primary idea for the project was to have vulnerability be in the driver’s seat when it came to the creative process. Throughout most of her musical career, Faris was often the only female in many of her bands and she desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year. And after extensive touring to support the album, the members of the JOVM mainstay act honed their sound and identity, with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year and after extensive touring to support the album, they’ve honed their sound and identity — with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit. In fact, as a heavy band they do something unique: their songs aren’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come in and go in rippling waves that surface throughout material that’s generally meditative and entrancing. But they also focus on building tension and intrigue throughout the song. 

Slated for an October 11, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records, Blackwater Holylight’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Veils of Winter finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums). And perhaps a result of the new lineup, the band’s sound and writing process have changed quite a bit. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” says Faris. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” She continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

 “Motorcycle” Veils of Winter’s finds the band balancing fuzzy, power chords, gorgeous melodicism and a motorik groove to create a unique take on heavy music that’s one part doom metal, one part shoegaze that manages to reveal subtle nuances on multiple listeners while being headbang worthy. 

New Audio: Summer Cannibals Release an Anthemic 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock-Like New Single

The Portland, OR-based indie rock act Summer Cannibals — Jessica Boudreaux (vocals, guitar), Cassi Blum (guitar), Ethan Butman (bassist) and Devon Shirley (drums) — formed in 2012 and since their formation they’ve released three critically applauded albums – 2013’s No Makeup, 2015’s Larry Crane-produced Show Us Your Mind and 2016’s Chris Woodhouse-engineered Full Of It. 

After escaping a manipulative personal and creative relationship, the band’s Jessica Boudreaux scrapped an entire album’s worth of material and started from scratch. The acclaimed Portland-based indie rock act’s highly-anticipated fourth album Can’t Tell Me No may arguably be the most defiant of their growing catalog as the album’s material is the result of taking back power. The album finds the band standing up — not to just a personal relationship or to the music industry but to the people and social constructs that have silenced women and held them down. Fueled by inspiration and adrenaline, the recording sessions for the new album found the band working together in a new, re-invigorated fashion with Boudreaux writing, recording and mixing much of the album with her bandmates during breakneck, 14-hour days. And while centered around an understandable anger, the album also offers listeners the hope that those who may feel powerless and voiceless can create change through strength, resolve and community. 

Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Behave,” is an anthemic, power chord-driven track that immediately recalls 120 Minutes-era alt rock — in particular, Pablo Honey-era Radiohead, Veruca Salt, The Breeders and the like; but the song is actually a deceptive mosh pit anthem, featuring bitterly incisive lyrics focusing on a dysfunctional and abusive relationship that the song’s narrator is about to escape from — with her soul and dignity more or less intact. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Aussie Electro Pop Act Haiku Hands Release a Cinematically Shot Visual for “Dare You Not To Dance”

Featuring a core trio comprised of Claire Nakazawa, Beatrice Lewis and Mie Nakazawa, the Australian indie electro pop act Haiku Hands is split between Melbourne and Sydney, and together the members of the act, who are influenced by hip-hop, pop, electro pop dance music and others, curate, perform and work as part of a larger collective that engages with and explores social norms with their lyrical, musical and visual content. Last year was a big year for the Aussie electro pop act as their previously released, high-energy bangers “Squat,” “Jupiter,” and “Not About You” amassed over 3.5 million streams — and as a result, each single landed spots on iTunes charts across the globe; in fact, “Jupiter” was included on Matt Wilkinson‘s Best Songs of 2018 So Far list, and received airplay on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X.

Earlier this year, the Aussie electro pop act went on a month-long North American tour with CHAI that featured stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening date for Cupcake in Chicago, along with appearances at a handful of SXSW showcases.

Building upon a rapidly growing national and international profile, the Aussie electro pop act are about to embark on a month-long tour of North America with CHAI that features stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and the Market Hotel, as well as an opening slot for Cupcake in Chicago, and along with that they had a busy SXSW, making appearances at a number of showcases, which have helped expand their profile internationally. But in the meantime, the act’s latest single is the brash and infectious “Dare You Not To Dance,” which will further cement their reputation for crafting club bangers that mesh elements of riot grrl punk, hip-hop, house music, drum ‘n’ bass, EDM and trap music with enormous, shout along worthy hooks in a way that brings M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani to mind.

Directed by Nathan Lewis, the recently released, incredibly cinematic video follows a collection of different young people, enthusiastically dancing in public — and in some cases while they’re supposed to be working or some other moment; and unlike the occasional passerby, these dancers are completely unguarded and free. 

Several years ago, I caught the Portland, OR-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Natasha Kmeto open for JOVM mainstays Beacon at the Bowery Ballroom. And as you may recall, Kmeto developed a national profile for crafting thoughtful and soulful R&B and house music-inspired electro pop informed by her increasing embrace of her identity as a queer woman.

Slated for a Friday release, Verse/Versus EP is Kmeto’s first batch of new material in a couple of years, and the material thematically touches upon longing, desire and the gray areas of a romance felt but unexpressed. Sonically, the material finds Kmeto subtly pushing her sound in a new direction, as there’s a strong emphasis on organic instrumentation — i.e. bass and sax — that help accentuate the 80s post punk influence, all while retaining the late night, Quiet Storm vibes. Verse/Versus‘ swooning and atmospheric, latest single “Spoken Silence” finds Kmeto pairing her pop belter vocals with a sultry yet atmospheric production consisting of a sinuous bass line, twinkling and arpeggiated synths and stuttering beats — and while further cementing her reputation for crafting R&B and classic house-inspired electro pop with a track that recalls Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around the World,” the song focuses on a desire and longing that’s palpably felt among both parties.